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2001 330xi
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The cutting service looks good, I'd do that. I had problems here finding somebody who would do it at all, and then had to go back cause he didn't do a good job.
 

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A lot of those aftermarket uncut key cases are crap. They don’t fit together right or put too much pressure on the buttons making them super sensitive and prone to fault presses or they are too far away from the button requiring a lot of force to get a button press. Then there is the center BMW roundel issues. I’ve bought many of the uncut key cases and some include domed aluminum stamped roundels that won’t stick to the flat surface of the center button making them useless. Or they are too big and won’t fit. The original BMW roundel doesn’t fit either. Most of the cases have a ridge around the center button surface that is too small for the genuine center roundel. One seller sent me a key case that the center was rubber and not hard plastic so that didn’t work either. There is a guy down the street from me that I get my aftermarket cases from (he went through many sellers until he found one that sold a decent aftermarket case) and he cuts them from a picture I send him of the original key. Since there are only 6 pins and each pin has only 4 levels/heights he is able to determine the code of the key from a picture and cut a perfect key regardless of how worn out the original is. This is great for those remotes that I get in for repair where the customer cut the original remote open with a hacksaw or otherwise removed too much material to ever fit together right.

I have the cheap $130 key duplicator, but, was never able to get it to work well. Nearly every key was cut just a little bit off so it got caught when trying to turn in the lock. I measured original and copy with calipers and compared them under a microscope, but, could not dial in my cutter. The guy I now get me keys from has the same cutter/duplicator and had the same problems. He spend the big bucks (>$1000) to get the good one that you just entry in the code and it cuts it perfect. It also duplicates.


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2005 BMW 330i ZHP Auto
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142 Posts
I have the cheap $130 key duplicator, but, was never able to get it to work well. Nearly every key was cut just a little bit off so it got caught when trying to turn in the lock.
I have the same key cutter and have had the same issues. Usually, I'm able to use some fine sandpaper to get the key to work, although I have had to trash a few. It may not be to everyone's taste, but I bought this fob and was impressed by the quality. Looks and feels nearly identical to the key of an f01 7 series.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have the cheap $130 key duplicator, but, was never able to get it to work well. Nearly every key was cut just a little bit off so it got caught when trying to turn in the lock. I measured original and copy with calipers and compared them under a microscope, but, could not dial in my cutter. The guy I now get me keys from has the same cutter/duplicator and had the same problems. He spend the big bucks (>$1000) to get the good one that you just entry in the code and it cuts it perfect. It also duplicates.
I have the same key cutter and have had the same issues. Usually, I'm able to use some fine sandpaper to get the key to work, although I have had to trash a few.
so i guess key cutting is not diy then. but it seems that any professional locksmith can do the "laser" cutting.

It may not be to everyone's taste, but I bought this fob and was impressed by the quality. Looks and feels nearly identical to the key of an f01 7 series.


the newer model folding keys are very pocket friendly, but i don't think i could buy one. either oem or aftermarket. because they remind me of too many bad loaners over the years. even the key for the e46 is simpler!

so going the other direction .. is there any reason not to try the previous/old rubber button key? better or worse than the diamond key?
 

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Got my keys pre-cut off of eBay. They work perfectly. Even ran one of 'em through the washing machine and it still works :D
 

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Discussion Starter #12
he cuts them from a picture I send him of the original key. Since there are only 6 pins and each pin has only 4 levels/heights he is able to determine the code of the key from a picture and cut a perfect key regardless of how worn out the original is.
interesting, so the cylinder has a finite number of combinations. and the key cut is just an analog representation of a digital code. that doesn't seem very secure at all.

i was already worried after seeing the lishi tool in action. makes me wonder if the physical cylinder is more or less secure than radio transmitter. i always assumed that the radio was the weak link.
 

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The keys only have 4096 unique cuts. Obviously not enough to have a unique cut for every E46. Hard to get much more without requiring much higher tolerances and greatly increasing the likelihood of problems from wear.

It’s easy to add bits to the digital code and they already implemented pseudo random rolling codes to both the keyless entry and EWS immobilizer systems so neither can be captured and cloned.

Using the Lisli tool will read out the key cut is super easy.


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